September 24, 2020

Bitsy: 2006ish-2020

We put Bitsy to sleep today at the age of 14ish. She had been steadily declining for a while, and this week I knew it was time.

Still a foster dog here, trying her best to adopt me (usually that goes the other way around but no one told Bitsy that)

Bitsy was our one and only foster failure. We had successfully fostered 7 dogs for Northern Lights Sled Dog Rescue before her, and we really enjoyed it and had no intention of getting a permanent second dog. We liked seeing them come in with health and behavior issues, fixing them up, and then sending them on their happy way with their next family.

But then Bitsy came into our lives, planted her flag and said "Hi, I'm Bitsy and you're my new family!" My first impression of her was that she was ugly. I know, I know, but it was totally true at the time. She had been found running the streets of a larger city in southern Indiana with half dead with pneumonia and was dramatically underweight with a seemingly large head on an emaciated 23lb body (eventually she settled around 30lbs). 

First photo I ever took of her after picking her up as a foster in June of 2012

The day after I picked her up, I took her to my parents' house by myself, a 7 hour roundtrip car ride, and I joked I gave her Stockholm Syndrome that weekend, because starting then and for the rest of her life, she adored me like I was a god.

At my grandparents' house that first weekend. Trademark tongue out, trying to lick the air as a consolation prize since I didn't have any skin in licking range

The sun rose and set by me for that dog from that weekend on. She wasn't annoyingly glued to me and she didn't have separation anxiety at all, but she tried to always be where she could at least see me. I started to fall in love with her, but even still I saw her as a foster dog. 

When NLSDR forwarded one applicant to me to review for her, I turned it down after I saw she would be crated most of the work day. Bitsy hated crates, but also, one small part of me kinda knew she wasn't going anywhere, even if I wouldn't admit it to myself for another few months yet.

Gazing adoringly at me

To the rescue's credit, they saw that coming too. It took me six months until November of 2012 to actually pull the trigger on keeping her, but during that entire time they never forwarded me another application, and they would later tell me that they "had a feeling." (For comparison, the longest we ever had a NLSDR foster dog before it got adopted was six weeks!)

Always the 'Nermal' to Tucker's 'Garfield'

Her breed was an enduring enigma until my former roommate Mark paid half of an Embark panel for her at Christmas last year, when we finally discovered she was 43% Husky, 18% German Shepherd, 12% Shar Pei (those forehead wrinkles and that boxy snout!), 10% Golden Retriever, 9% Chow Chow and 8% Boxer! There will truly never be another Bitsy.

Farmers told me more than once that she looked enough like a coyote that they'd shoot her in their fields if they saw her, but her personality couldn't have been further from it. She was joyous, happy, trusting and content. She really never needed to be on a leash, she was so glued to me (although yes we did leash her in public anyway, it's the right thing to do), and if Tucker escaped the backyard we'd find her squeaking on the porch, tattling on him rather than running through the open gate. I could count on one hand the number of times she barked in 8 years, usually in surprise. Outside of that, she was completely silent except for her trademark squeaking.

She always strongly preferred hanging out with people to hanging out with other dogs, a trait that was never more obvious than at the dog park or when she was boarded, where she'd stick to my side like Velcro and look up at me the whole time like "...are we done yet?" Austen's Lyra was the only dog she ever really played with.

Jeepin. Bitsy hated Jeepin (no she didn't ride up front like this)

Over the past couple of years, she started to decline. First, her vision got cloudy, then her hearing started to go, and then she started doing weird things like staring at the wrong side of doors. Eventually she was diagnosed with doggy Alzheimers and a tumor in the back of her throat that we couldn't remove that "will eventually kill her." 


The decision to put her to sleep was so much less clear cut with sweet, compliant Bitsy than it was with our independent, unconfineable Husky/Malamute mix we put down two years ago, but after a bladder infection that a round of antibiotics didn't even touch and finding her down and unable to get up twice over the weekend, I looked into her eyes and knew it was time.

That time Nick drew eyebrows on her with my eyeliner pencil while I was at the barn, lol

Bitsy's most defining trait was her licking, and in the end it was the licking that gave me the confidence that I was making the right decision. The day I picked her up from the rescue in 2012, she licked me with an intensity and desperation I had never seen in a dog before, and I politely told her to knock it off. The rescue coordinator laughed. "I place hundreds of Huskies a year and let me tell you, you will never break this one of her licking habit." 

Any exposed skin on any person she considered a friend was fair game for a tongue bath. I joked for most of her life that the day that dog stopped licking me would be the day I knew it was time to put her to sleep, and in the end that was actually true. Over her last couple of days, the most she could muster was a lick or two if I put my face up to her mouth.

The best at 'sit pretty'

To the best dog I have ever had and probably will ever have, thank you for finding me <3


  1. Oh Jen, I'm so, so sorry :( I always found bitsy to be a beautiful intriguing dogs from your posts on Instagram and based on what you've written about her, she sounds/ed like such a lovely soul of a dog. You gave her a great and full life.

  2. I cried reading this. I loved getting to meet Bitsy at Rolex, and actually a lot of her story reminds me of Cici (although wildly different breeds, I have my own velcro dog). She had a WONDERFUL life with you, and you gave her the best gift you can possibly give a dearly beloved pet -- the chance to leave with grace before they have to suffer. She knew she was loved every single day with you <3

  3. I’m so so sorry to read this Jen. Sending hugs. I’m so glad that I got to meet her and definitely teary eyed reading this.

  4. I'm so, so sorry. I'm glad you had the best dog in your life, and what a wonderful 8+ years you shared - how lucky for the both of you.

  5. So sorry. What a lovely dog and a touching tribute. So hard to lose your friend.

  6. I'm so sorry for your loss, Jen. She was lucky to have found you

  7. Oh Jen my heart hurts for you. She was such a special girl!

  8. I am so, so sorry for your loss. She was such a special girl, and I know she'll always hold a special place in your heart. ❤️

  9. I'm SO sorry, but bless you for loving and keeping a rescue dog! I have one like yours, foster fail who loves me with her whole being. There will surely never be another Bitsy!

  10. I'm so sorry. I'm so glad you had each other and had a wonderful life together. Rest easy Bitsy.

  11. Aw, I'm so sorry. Hugs to you and hubby, and Hank, too :(

  12. She displayed great instincts when she "picked" you. So sorry to hear about your loss.

  13. Awwwe, what a special girl, many hugs! <3

  14. I'm so sorry for your loss, she sounds like she was such a special dog.

  15. She was beautiful. I’m so sorry for your loss.